5. Arrival (2016)
Forget about making it, even thinking about a movie like Arrival isn’t a five-finger exercise. One can’t help but admire the astuteness of the story and the subtlety with which it has been presented. Not to forget Denis Villeneuve’s directorial acumen and the performances of the cast which ameliorate its cinematic experience. Arrival is easily one of the most intelligent and thoughtful sci-fi movies to have ever surfaced onto the cinematic landscape.
The immaculateness of the writing gets challenged in the climax when General Shang has to whisper Louise’s words into her very ears (in a flash memory sequence) which she would later tell him over the phone (in the present time) in order to withdraw his assaultive stance on the extra-terrestrial beings.
No matter how innocent the scene might look, it was inherently awkward and asinine. Why would the general whisper her words into her ears? Wouldn’t she know what she had said especially because it happened at one of the most crucial moments of her life thus making it impossible to be easily forgotten? Moving over, the misery is only worsened in the film’s concept of seeing through time by learning the alien language.
While we can snub its lack of plausibility owing to the genre of the flick, we can’t ignore the half-hearted approach that the makers made in its execution. Think of it; if learning the alien language could allow a person to see the future, then why only Louise could do that and not Ian? By no means would he not learn the language and not get his skill of discerning beyond the present timeline and as a result witness his daughter’s future. Arrival fails to make a comprehensive explanation in these matters and just ends its wonderful premise on a lower note.
4. Meet Joe Black (1998)
Meet Joe Black follows the story of how Death as a person, comes down to earth and understands the beauty and intricacies of life. The heart of this film is as beautiful as its concept and it celebrates love and life in an extraordinarily elegant manner. Despite its flaws in the writing, Meet Joe Black holds you fascinated in a spellbindingly charming premise that runs for almost three hours!
Honestly speaking the most beautiful moments of the film were in its climax where Death and William are in a confused state regarding the former’s love for Susan and the subsequent decisions that are taken by them. The conglomeration of all those montages is deeply touching and exquisite. But as both of them walk away into the oblivion, Death revives the young man whose body he had acquired and he (the young man), instead of being bewildered about where he is and why or what happened to him, is fascinated by the party and Susan’s presence.
There could be a myriad number of ways in which the makers could have reunited both these characters but thanks to its lazy writing, we were granted the most awkward and unpleasant way to showcase a new beginning which only meant the conclusion of the film.
3. Wonder Woman (2017)
Keeping aside all other accolades, the greatest achievement of this Patty Jenkin’s directorial is that it revived a dying cinematic universe single-handedly. Wonder Woman was everything that fans had wished it to be. Lighter than the previous DCEU flicks yet matured, it is an honouring ode to the undeniable role of women in ameliorating the society. It also managed to successfully create a base for future female-oriented superhero films.
By no means was this movie perfect in its run, but almost all of them could be ignored keeping in mind the overall excellence it exhibited. However, towards the end when Diana is unable to stop the war after killing General Ludendorff whom she suspects to be Ares, Steve tells her that ‘maybe it’s not Ares but the inherent glitch in human nature that’s the cause of all the problems’.
What Steve said was absolutely true and for an instance we were convinced that the movie got its most important philosophical element right, only to be betrayed a few minutes later. Regardless of the content of the original comics, the film version shouldn’t have battled Diana and Ares. Wonder Woman could have explored human atrocities in much subtler manners without resorting to childish gimmicks in order to provide a bombastic action filled climactic sequence.
Even after she eliminates her enemy, we see people getting up and embracing each other which only made things more ludicrous. Why did the makers even do that when we know that we, humans, went on another World War which was even bloodier and more devastating than the one the film focusses on? We, ourselves, are responsible for all the miseries that have been bestowed upon our kind and blaming that on a godlike creature is only puerile.
2. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The perceived greatness of The Sixth Sense needs no introduction. It has so many positive qualities in terms of direction, acting, writing, and technical execution, but what stands out of all is Haley Joel Osment’s incredible performance which is technically the soul of the film and is now considered to be one of the greatest acts by a child actor.
Whenever we talk about The Sixth Sense, we never forget to discuss or praise its unexpected twist in the climax. Truly, whatever reverence the film has today, is unanimously due to that twist which interestingly, is also its greatest flaw! The final scenes show us that Malcolm was a spirit and had actually died due to the gunshot, which he incurred in the film’s opening montages.
That’s fine, but what’s unnerving is the film’s portrayal that he himself didn’t know about his own death! Even if for a moment you’d accept it, how can you explain the events of the entire flick where Malcolm was technically not interacting with anyone else except Cole? If he didn’t know about his own demise, couldn’t he realise that no one except Cole would react to his presence or listen to him?
Chuck that even, think about rudimental things like eating food, taking a bath, having a good sleep, talking with people around, etc. Wouldn’t he have an urge to do all of this and then get nettled by the fact that he couldn’t do them which in turn would lead him to suspect his own existence? How could one of the stupidest twists become one of the most revered ones? Cinema and its lovers are always mysterious!
1. Identity (2003)
In modern cinema where the pursuit of making thrillers more artistic and character-driven has only rendered them unamusing and unengaging, one would easily miss a riveting movie like Identity in a reminiscent state of mind. Involving a bunch of characters, giving almost all of them their rightful share of screen time while also progressing steadily with its narrative under a grim and tensed atmosphere isn’t a walk in the park, but James Mangold did it.
As the viewer is engrossed into the murder mystery and is himself/herself trying to figure out as to who the murderer is, the movie takes an unexpectedly sharp turn by providing an age-old twisting technique i.e. ‘everything was happening in the mind of one character’. While this very technique has given us excellent films like American Psycho, Stay and Enemy to name a few, it didn’t really sit well with the way this film had been built up.
The viewer not only feels cheated but psychologically violated by this absurd cinematic turn which only extirpates the film itself. The disheartening thing is that Identity was perfect in each and every step until its very ending. It could have been a masterpiece but today it’s nowhere considered to be even close to that and all we can feel is sorry about it.
Author Bio: Ankit Acharya is an Indian engineering graduate who runs a movie blog of his own when he isn’t at work. He is active on social media as well where he expresses his love for chai (tea) and films frequently and articulately.